This week, we start looking at Phillies prospects. Being one of the oldest teams in the majors and trading away prospects worries a lot of fans, myself included. That being said, there are still plenty of young farmhands that are doing their best to burst onto the prospect radar. We know about the big names like Franco, Biddle and Crawford. Today, we are going to find out a little more about the Phillies #9 overall prospect as ranked by Baseball America.
Signed out of Panama in 2011, Severino Gonzalez has quietly made his way up the Phillies prospect ladder. Gonzalez, 21, primarily throws three pitches, all of which he seems to control at a very high level. Last season, he won the Phillies Pitcher of the Year organization award after going 7-5 with a 2.00 in 25 games, 14 of them starts, between Lakewood, Clearwater and Reading. He struck out 119 hitters last season and walked only 22, so his pitch control and getting ahead is something that Gonzalez has shown off very well.
"His fastball can go both ways," Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said. "He cuts it and he sinks it. In a sense, he's trying to emulate Mariano [Rivera] and his cutter. He looks underdeveloped. He's going to get bigger and stronger. He can really pitch. He's fun to watch. He's real competitive on the mound. He doesn't mind throwing inside. He pitches like a veteran. He has three or four different pitches, throws them in any count. Throws a lot of strikes. He had a very good year last year in Venezuela, and he just continued that this year. He pitched well wherever we've thrown him."
Though he shows signs of potential, one thing Gonzalez struggled with last season while with Clearwater was getting left-handers out. Lefties hit .309/.380/.404 against him over his 20 games with the Threshers. This year, lefties are hitting .167 against him.
Although he throws fastball, curveball and sinker, Gonzalez is adding a changeup to the mix. It is a pitch that Phillies development believes he will need to continually keep hitters off balance. Since signing, he has added about 10 mph to his fastball and it features good cutting and sinking action as well.
Gonzalez didn’t sign until he was 18 as he spent time in the Venezuelan Summer League for two seasons, where he went 8-4 with a 1.80 ERA in 135 1/3 innings pitched. In 2013, he saw time at three levels for the Phillies, spending the majority of the year with Clearwater. In 20 games with the Threshers, nine starts, he posted a 2.02 ERA in 75 2/3 innings. He struck out 82 batters and walked just 19. In his career, he has fanned 245 hitters and allowed only 35 batters to reach base on balls.
This season, the Phillies prospect is picking up right where he left off. So far for Double-A Reading, he has made three starts and is sporting a 2.65 ERA. He threw five innings of one run ball on April 4th against Portland, striking out three and walking one. On April 19th, he threw seven innings of one run ball, striking out four and walking none. His most recent start was on April 14th, where he pitched five innings and gave up three runs, walked three and struck out four against the Richmond Flying Squirrels. His next start is slated for tomorrow, Saturday the 19th against the Nationals Double-A squad, the Harrisburg Senators.
If his success continues in Double-A, we could see Gonzalez break into the Ironpigs rotation later in the season.
Brandon Apter is a writer for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter @ApterShock